I was talking to my brother about women’s attitudes towards their bodies, especially regarding weight/fat, and when he said “most guys don’t notice/care about that kind of thing,” I tried to explain why it was a lot more complicated than that. I ended up telling this story.
Body image is something that’s so hard to talk about, and it’s hard to express body positivity without sounding cheesy, false, or overly simplistic. But I’m gonna try. This is only my own experience, and it didn’t magically cure me of all my body image issues - but it was a major turning point for me nonetheless.
She put jasper and pearl combs in my hair and yanked them so tight I cried—there, now you’re a lady, she said, and I didn’t know if the comb or the tears did it. She put me in her own corsets like nooses strangling my waist til I was sick, my breath gone and my stomach shoved up into my ribs—there, now you’re civilized, she said, and I did not know if it was the corset of the sickness that did it. She forbade me to eat sweets or any good thing til I got thin as a dog and could hardly stand I was so damn hungry—there, now you’re beautiful, she said and I did not know if it was my dog-bones showing or my crawling in front of her begging for a miserable apple to stop my belly screaming that made me fair.
For myself I thought: this is how you make a human being. A human being is beautiful and sick. A human being glitters and starves.
I worked hard to be as human as possible.
- Six-Gun Snow White, by Catherynne M. Valente, p42